Sexual Harassment - The Onus is on Employers

22 DEC 2023

 

Sexual Harassment has always been an issue in workplace environments. To reduce the rate of workplace sexual harassment, the federal government has passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 (Cth).

This new legislation caused a number of changes which caused an expansion on protections for those experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.  Previously protections were only offered under Fair Work to interns, apprentices, volunteers, unpaid workers, workers who are self-employed, it is now extended to any persons seeking to become a worker.

But what do these changes mean for employers? Employers now have an obligation to take ‘reasonable and proportionate measures’ to eliminate not only sexual harassment in connection with work, but also discrimination on the grounds of sex in a work context, conduct creating a workplace environment that is hostile on the ground of sex, sex-based harassment in connection with work and any other related acts of victimisation.

So as a business or organisation what can you do to meet these obligations? The first step is to make sure you have a policy that is available, accessible and sufficient, it shouldn’t just cover the overt instances of sexual harassment but also the less obvious cases. As an employer you should provide your staff with regular training around sexual harassment (and other forms of discrimination). You need to ensure you have a reporting process for if sexual harassment occurs, it should not only be sufficient to deal with any instances of sexual harassment but also all employees should be trained adequately so they know what to do if it does happen.

If your business needs a sexual harassment policy, or needs their policy reviewed in light of the new changes, or if you would like advice in respect of your obligations as an employer, please contact the Employment Law Team at Marsdens for assistance.

 

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

 

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